The Murder of Jaye Potter Mintz Feb 23, 1987 Leland N.C.

Leland is a suburb of Wilminton, nestled neatly along the west bank of the Brunswick River.  It’s best described as a mid-sized town, but still has that small town charm about it.

Lorene Potter who discovered her daughter’s body that day. She stopped by her daughters home at a approximately 12pm, noticing that the door was unlocked which was out of character for her daughter she entered the home and was greeted by the sound of her grandsons whimpering, just one day shy of the boys second birthday.

The scene she encountered was best described by Dr. Maurice Godwin who was interviewed by the Huffpost in April of 2014:

“Her hands had been tied behind her back and a pillowcase covered her face,” Godwin said. “When her mom removed the pillowcase, she saw her daughter’s throat had been cut so deep that her head was nearly severed from her body. She had also been stabbed multiple times.” Mintz had also been raped, Dr. Godwin said. 

It should be noted here that the crime scene showed signs of being well planned out, in a controlled way, then at other times it was chaotic and out of control. The clipped newspaper ad was also left at the sign leading detectives to believe it was left by the killer, maybe as a way to taunt police.

A polygraph examiner  with the SBI in Leland, Walter House administered a polygraph to a number of men that Jaye knew, the results would not have been admissible in court and Walter eliminated Jaye’s friends . In fact, Walter has stated that he does not believe that he interviewed the killer and I quite agree with him.

She had been trying to sell a bed and at that so she had placed an ad in the local paper, the first one didn’t sell the bed so the second time she ran the ad  she used her mothers phone number instead of her’s because she had already taken advantage of the free offer the local paper had going on. Her mother received a call the morning of Jaye’s murder about the bed. She called Jaye, the bed had been sold so her mother told her to tell the man when he stopped by and that was the last time she spoke to her daughter. That was around 9:40 am.  He mother who has since passed away always felt somehow responsible for Jaye’s murder because she gave the caller directions to Jaye’s home that morning.

Andrew, the only witness was only capable of babbling “Mean man hurt mommy.” Jaye’s other son who was 4 at the time was away visiting his other grandmother.

What really baffled investigators was the killer got in and out unnoticed mid morning and that everyone in Leland was more than willing to give samples, take polygraphs, you name it the residents were all for it. That is so unusual, typically if someone is a suspect the first thing they do is show up with a lawyer. That simply didn’t happen.

Detective Tony Cummings who worked this case on and off for several years and rather tirelessly thought he had a promising lead in 1994, a man he watched for a year or so, a carpenter who was in Leland at the time of the murder, had a few minor run in’s with the law, no felonies, but had beat his wife. The man was in Florida in 94 and just gave his DNA without argument to Cumming’s and he was cleared. Again, another person who didn’t feel he needed a lawyer.

What detectives have said all a long was that Jaye was just the sweetest woman, not one enemy, no one had anything bad to say about her. She was well liked by everyone.

Enter March, 2014 Dr. Maurice Godwin offers to look at the case.

He’s not interested in getting into the mind of the killer, he is interested in and I quote “gittin in the shoes of the killer.”  Ummm ok.

While I am all for getting someone in to look at the case, fresh eyes, maybe they can see something that no one else did and break the case and I respect Dr. Godwin’s work, what I don’t respect about Dr. Godwin is that he is basically making this bold and wild claim that he is somehow approaching the case differently than investigators would therefor he is more likely to be able to solve the case. I call bullshit on that.

Snipped directly from Dr. Godwin’s site:

“Deductive assumptions are made everyday at crime scenes. Often investigators make presumptions of guilt about a suspect, which thereafter guides the way he/she investigates a case. Godwin Forensic Consultancy can conduct a detailed examination of the crime scene and case files to look for any mental errors and assumptions made by investigators. A myopic view by police often leads to evidence being overlooked and ignored, which could exonerate a defendant.”

Mental errors and assumptions made by investigators huh? That’s pretty goddamn bold to just say. I call bullshit on that as well.

If you would like to visit Dr. Godwin’s site you can find it here:

February 2015:

Dr. Godwin has been cutoff by police from the files. He states pretty clearly the suspect is in the files and now he is just awaiting DNA. In the end of this interview it sounds almost as if he is whining that out.

Here’s the deal and why I am coming down so hard on Dr. Godwin, the way he feels the need to sell himself and what he does is egotistical and no different than what investigators already do. The problem is, police departments don’t have the manpower to solve every cold case. They try, they do what they can. All Dr. Godwin does is work a case no differently than any investigator would. He isn’t in any way shape or form “gittin in the shoes of the killer.”  If he had he wouldn’t really need the police files any longer. Over a year working this in his free time…you couldn’t get into the shoes of the killer by now?

Going back to his statement about deductive assumptions. That is exactly what he is doing. He is creating a mental idea, image and picture of the killer and oddly enough pretending to the be the killer by looking at the crime scene.

As of today, we haven’t learned anything from Dr. Godwin that would point detectives in a new direction because Dr. Godwin wants the glory. If he had anything without the benefit of having the DNA…he’d move forward already. So no, as impressive as he comes off as, he isn’t doing anything any police station, cold case team or FBI agent wouldn’t be doing or already do on any given case. In layman’s terms, he is looking at the evidence and following it from the perspective of someone who works with defense teams.

IF we look at just the evidence that’s available here’s what we see:

~The crime was carefully planned

~The killer knew Jaye intimately (which is not to say that she knew him)

~The killer was closer to Jaye than I believe anyone ever thought, he was close enough to think her children would not be home and that she’d be alone, but took the time to make the appointment to see the bed so that he’d have a reason to approach the home

~At some point during the commission of the crime, the killer just lost it. He lost whatever control he walked in the door with.

From that I believe the killer was never on the suspect list. The presence of the child may have been what made him lose it. Something tells me that the killer did not expect the children to be at home, he knew her schedule well enough to feel comfortable scheduling an appointment to see the bed that morning. Why that particular morning? Could it be that the boys typically weren’t at the home that day of the week? A killer who took all of the props for this crime and knew her schedule didn’t just throw darts at the calendar to pick that day of the week to murder Jaye.

The killer? Who is he?

This was not a random crime and it most likely was not just some bitter former lover or guy that wanted to date Jaye that she turned down. This person is quite possibly both an extrovert and introvert. He can be one or the other on any given day or by his choosing. He is charming and likable.  This person throughout his life has had moments of highs and lows, temperament wise but only someone who has lived with this person would know that.

I get to this conclusion by looking at the crime scene. Controlled then out of control chaos back to control. The out of control was not part of the plan and it became an uncontrolled rage. I wouldn’t diagnose him as bi-polar but his highs and lows would be comparable to that of a bi-polar personality. It is also possible if you carefully examine the crime scene you will see the progression of the controlled to out of control then back to cool, calm, calculating control. It’s the mental timeline or progression of rage the killer felt.

A smaller chance does exist that is might be the killers first kill, since so much overkill went into the murder. The excitement of it threw the killer into this overboard high so to speak. But I personally believe this suspect is seasoned maybe not with killing but a seasoned criminal none the less.

The killer was meant to be in this area, at that exact time. It’s the only way he could have slipped in and out without being noticed. Across the street from Jaye’s home, a crew of roofers were working on the roof, a flower shop was next door to her home and it was a pretty busy and well traveled street in front of her home.

What that means is, the killer was someone people were used to seeing, they were comfortable around him enough to not really notice him at the time of day because they typically see him at that time of day. Have you ever noticed that you stop noticing things like your neighbors that you might see at the same time, every day, or once a week, the UPS guy who goes to the same place to deliver at the same time every day…this killer was familiar to everyone in the area, familiar enough to not be noticed this particular morning. You can interview everyone and dismiss some as suspects simply because they belonged in that area at that time of the day.

We might assume the killer would have been covered in blood but considering that he planned the crime in advance and it was such a brutal murder, he would have shown up with a bag of some type, a backpack, he carried his own tools to the crime which we all know, so it would not be far fetched to consider the possibility that he was wearing something over the clothes he walked out in. I doubt he took an entire change of clothes. He would have worn something over his clothes. The only other possibility is that he was wearing something like the roofers across the street, tar stained clothing hides blood spatter.

This killer knew Jaye rather intimately, he knew here schedule well enough to make an appointment to see the bed she had for sale, he knew she would be alone but took the newspaper clipping just in case someone was with her at that time. I am not sure the killer expected her son to be home and I believe that is what set him off into that uncontrolled rage. He planned the crime in such a way that he didn’t plan to kill her 4 year old son let alone Andrew, he left Andrew alive because the boy could not identify him and/or he never intended to kill a child because he isn’t capable of doing that. His victim was Jaye, his type was Jaye. Killing a child simply wasn’t part of who this killer is, therefore he couldn’t do it and he didn’t plan on it in the first place.

The newspaper clipping that was at the scene? I don’t believe he left it on purpose, I think it was on accident, but I do believe the killer left it just as the police in this case do.

So where does that leave us? I don’t have the police files so I can’t say for sure who it would be, what I can tell you is that more people than originally thought knew of this person. Quite frankly, I doubt he is on the suspect list and I believe he was either dismissed as a suspect or because people were so used to seeing him in the area his name was never mentioned.

It’s possible the DNA might lead to his identity it’s also possible that it may not.  Hopefully the DNA test Dr. Godwin paid for out of his own pocket will yield some results.

Hopefully this blog will bring a different enough perspective on this case for investigators to develop a different profile of the killer, different enough for them to finally be able to figure out who he is.

Share your thoughts and input if you have information you think might be helpful.

Cristal M Clark

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